Book Review: The Language of the Sea by James MacManus

December 20th, 2011

The Language of the Sea by James MacManus is a novel that takes you on a journey between what is real and what is not or is it? I began reading this book wondering if this was really something I would like because it started out slowly for me but within a short while I was captivated by Leo Kemp’s life and knew I had to find out more about this man’s thoughts on the sea and the life within it.

Leo Kemp is a marine biologist who teaches and lives with his wife and daughter on the beautiful Cape Cod. The big thing to understand about Leo is his absolute fascination with seals – how they communicate and how they live. Another thing about Leo is he is very outspoken on things he believes in and has more than once publicly questioned the policies at the Institute where he teaches. Finally, he is fired because of this. He had a field trip planned with his students though and he decides that there is no reason for them to miss it so he takes them out anyway.

While out on the tugboat with his students a storm blows in and Leo ends up being thrown overboard. The big question is does he want to be found? His career is in a shambles and his marriage certainly isn’t much better. As Leo struggles to get to shore or at least safe he begins to notice the seals around him. He watches them and listens and soon enough he begins to swim with them and live with them and they slowly begin to recognize him as one of their own. In Leo’s mind this is a dream come true and he struggles to understand whether he is alive or maybe he’s died. Either way he would like nothing better than to spend the rest of his days living as a seal. This seems to be turning out to be the perfect escape for a man who was none too happy with the way his life was going anyway and Leo really has no intention of giving up the freedom he has found.

I loved the writing in The Language of the Sea – the almost dreamlike and mystical quality to Leo’s life when he’s with the seals. I loved all the information that the author provided on sea life and seals in particular. There was definitely a lot I didn’t know and I found it really interesting in that respect. As for the characters I didn’t feel particularly drawn to any of them; it was more the story itself that drew me in with this one. This story is really one I may have considered outside of my comfort zone but I enjoyed it and once I got past the initial slowness in the beginning I had a hard time putting it down until I reached the end which I’ll just say surprised me just a little!

If you’re at all interested in sea life or seals in particular you would likely enjoy this book. Or if you simply like a novel that is thought provoking and a little different than usual, then you should consider giving The Language of the Sea a try. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ultimately ended up enjoying this novel!

Source: Received for review from Book Trib and was first published here on Book Trib. No compensation was received for this review. All opinions are mine alone.

18 Comments to “Book Review: The Language of the Sea by James MacManus”

  1. kaye says:

    This does sound pretty interesting even though it sounds implausible. Glad you enjoyed it, Dar.

    • admin says:

      Kaye, it certainly was implausible which was why, at first, I really didn’t think it was for me. Somehow though I became curious enough to want to know how it all would turn out. It’s not for everyone unless this type of story would appeal to you.

  2. zibilee says:

    This one does indeed sound dreamlike and mystical, and it sounds like a very curious and intriguing read indeed! I am so glad that you enjoyed it and that it was a great read for you, Dar! I will be looking for it when it becomes available!

    • admin says:

      Heather, it was dreamlike. As a matter of a fact I actually thought at one point the main character would wake up and I’d find out it was all a dream. lol.

  3. This may be outside of my comfort zone, but since you loved it so much I’d be willing to give it a try.

    • admin says:

      Kathy, it was out of my comfort zone too as when I set out to read it I thought it would be something different. It’s a strange story but also intriguing.

  4. Sophia Rose says:

    I do like this sort of thing so I appreciate your review and share.

    Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Sophia Rose, thanks for stopping in. I think this book will really appeal to those willing to let go of reality for a while.

  5. mamabunny13 says:

    I think I would love this book, it’s different.

    • admin says:

      mamabunny, it most definitely is different. It’s not like anything I’ve read or liked before – that’s for sure. I was pleasantly surprised to like it as much as I did.

  6. blodeuedd says:

    You make me think I need to read some real fiction soon

    • admin says:

      LOL Linda, I can’t see you leaving behind your fantasy novels for this. That’s what I love about your reviews – you introduce me to things I normally wouldn’t read. Hopefully I do the same for you.

  7. Leslie says:

    I think I’d enjoy this one. I’m usually drawn to books with science or nature in the plot. This is going on my list.

  8. This does sound like a good one Dar. Love books that take place at the Cape.

  9. Serena says:

    Ah Cape Cod. You’ve got my attention now. Sounds like another good read.

  10. Wonderful review. I have to admit that I haven’t thought about seals much but I do like thought provoking reads.

  11. Staci says:

    I think this one sounds like it could be a great read…I love thought provoking books.

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